Cadets Train for Months to Reenact Changing of the Guard
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. —
For the past five years, 18-year-old Stephen Leskowat has been a part of a tradition he says helped change his life.
He and eight of his fellow cadets from the Civil Air Patrol are recreating the changing of the guard for the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The ceremony kicked off on Saturday at the Floral Haven Cemetery in Broken Arrow, and will continue through Monday. The cadets conduct ceremonial guard changes every thirty minutes, 24 hours a day until Monday afternoon at 5, regardless of the weather.
Leskowat now trains the other cadets for the ceremony. He said the group starts in January, with around 100 hours of training in all.
"That is the one and only thing that's going through my mind," said Leskowat. "Am I going to mess up and dishonor them."
The cadets work in the shadows of more than 3,000 American flags at the cemetery.
Walter Still with Floral Haven said the Avenue of Flags has been a yearly tradition for decades.
"Each one of the flags you see is a flag that draped the casket of a veteran," said Still. "So it was donated back from their family in order to be flown here on our Memorial Day ceremony."
Still said the tradition started out much smaller.
"With a widow who decided to donate her flag," said Still.
Still said the flags, the changing of the guard, all of it add up to one proud salute to the men and women who gave all.
The Avenue of Flags and the changing of the guard ceremonies continue through Monday.